Joy for Acorns Hospice appeal as fund hits £450,000

Campaigners behind a crusade to save a much-loved hospice from closing have spoken of their joy at the prospect of its survival.

With cash thermometers, chief executive Toby Porter, at the Acorns Children’s Hospice, Walsall
With cash thermometers, chief executive Toby Porter, at the Acorns Children’s Hospice, Walsall

Skydives, marathons, head shaves and cake sales – all were part of an endless wave of generosity that swept through the Black Country and beyond after it became clear that Acorns children's hospice was in grave peril.

And all of that hard work – including a meeting with MPs in Parliament – has paid off with the announcement of a stay of execution for the Walsall centre after £450,000 had been raised since June.

Among those overjoyed at the news was Rachel O'Donnell, 28, from Birchills, whose seven-year-old son Charlie Waring, has been using the hospice for five years.

Nearly £500,000 has been raised so far

She said: "There are no words to describe how excited and delighted and happy I am at the news.

"Our family were absolutely broken when we heard Acorns might close. I suffer from MS and we don't have any other respite.

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"When I've been admitted to hospital, Acorns have kindly taken him in so we're not losing money by my partner taking time off work. The thought of losing it was devastating.

"The knowledge that the brilliant staff will keep their jobs makes me so happy."

How you can donate:

  • Text ACORNS5 to 70025 to donate £5*

  • Text ACORNS10 to 70025 to donate £10*

  • Phone: 01564 825 037

  • *With texts you will be charged your donation, plus your standard network rate. Acorns receives at least 98 per cent of your donation as it will incur a two per cent admin charge for this service. By texting, you are agreeing for Acorns to phone or text you to tell you about our work and how you can help. If you wish to donate and not hear from Acorns again, text ACORNS5 NO to 70025. For more information call 01564 825 037. Acorns Children’s Hospice registered charity no: 700859.

James Wright, 39, a golf professional at Penn Golf Club who raised £10,000 by running 31 marathons in 31 days after hearing of the hospice's plight, joined in the celebrations.

He has been promised a further £10,000 by Dudley Rotary for his next challenge running the 145-mile length of the Grand Union Canal from Birmingham to London.

He said: "My wife and I knew a little girl close to our hearts who was helped by Acorns for seven years. When it looked like it was shutting, I felt I wanted to help, it's so fantastic for local families.

"It's amazing we've got this far but we've already lost the Hospice at Home service, so it's important we keep fighting. I'd do anything to keep the place going."

Delighted staff, users and supporters at Acorns

Mark Lyttle, 43, whose daughter Isabella died in April of a brain tumour, was part of the delegation that went to London to urge local MPs to ask the government to step in and save Acorns.

"Isabella truly loved coming here, and so did we," he said. "The staff knew what we needed before we even knew. When your child is going through something like this, you forget to eat, to drink, to sleep. You don't look after yourselves, and they recognised that and helped us, too."

He remembers the day he found out that the hospice was under threat. "It was June 4, the day after Isabella's birthday, and we were on our way to the cemetery. In a shop I saw the front page of the Express&Star and did a triple-take.

"I couldn't believe that this place that had done so much for us, and I'm convinced had given us more time with Isabella, might shut. I thought about what Isabella would say and I knew she would want us to get involved. We're doing this for all the other Isabellas.

"We've raised £400,000 just from the local community in three months - that is a testament to this place. The staff here have a special skill set. They have been in limbo, and as parents we know what that feels like.

"It's important we celebrate this good news but we're not finished yet – we still need people's support to get over the line."

Leah Taylor, community champion for Tesco whose customers have raised £2,000 for Acorns since the threat to its future was announced, was thrilled. "It's amazing news. It's a charity very close to people's hearts," she said.

Isabella's godfather Chris O'Dwyer, who runs Baked bakery in Tettenhall and has helped in fundraising campaigns, said: "It's great but people need to understand that this isn't the end – we can't take our foot off the gas."

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